Armetta Lashun: Rural beginnings lead to urban changes
Armetta Lashun was born and raised in Troup, Texas. Growing up in a town with a population of about 2,000 people, civic engagement has always been important for Armetta. After leaving her hometown to attend college at the University of Texas- Tyler she continued her leadership involvement and created WISE (We’re In Search of Equality), an organization dedicated to gender woman studies. Through her involvement with campaigns and various organizations, Armetta has managed to reach the whole state of Texas and continues to be a voice for small rural towns.
Being a woman of color in a small town has molded Armetta to become the strong leader she is today. Her experiences involving discrimination from her high school teachers and being told she will never be qualified have resonated with her career and journey in politics. However, these unfortunate experiences in her life have encouraged her to make a change in her own community and surrounding rural cities so that everyone despite their background or identification has the support they need.
In 2014, Armetta attended New Leadership Texas, a program that addresses the underrepresentation of women in American politics. It was her first time working closely with women running for office in the state of Texas and it was a turning point for her career in politics as it surrounded her with women across the state who empowered one another.
After attending New leadership Texas her sophomore year of college, Armetta realized that UT- Tyler and the East Texas community lacked the representation of women in politics. She wanted to make sure that women in her community had the same resources and networks that she was exposed to when she attended the conference. As a result, she created WISE for women to create political equality and to provide women with the necessary resources and support to run for office.
WISE has allowed Armetta to advocate for issues that affect her and those around her. Gun safety issues on her college campus, gender parity, and cultural diversity are just a couple of the concerns that she strongly believes need to be addressed. The creation of WISE and the work that has been put into the organization created one of the biggest milestones for Armetta’s career because she was able to witness the changes on her campus. Along the journey of creating WISE, she came across people who inspired her. Her mom has always been her biggest inspiration and her strongest supporter. The support that she was receiving from her advisors, mentors, and members of the organization reflected on the mission of WISE and it pushed her to continue bringing awareness to her campus. The resources and guidance that she has received from other organizations such as Ignite National and Vote Run Lead, have led her to turn her idea of helping women in politics into reality through the creation of her own organization.
Armetta is also a campaign operative and worked for Tom Steyer's 2020 presidential campaign. Through her experience, she oversaw different events in different parts of the state and served as the Volunteer Engagement Director for the state of Texas. This was her first time working for a presidential campaign, but through her participation and work ethic she learned a lot, and it also allowed for her own skills to shine. She received the opportunity to work alongside people from all over the state and interacted with them to find solutions for their issues.
Armetta believes women interested in pursuing a career in politics should surround themselves with people who believe in them and support their decisions. It’s one thing to want something and another to work for it. For Armetta, it is very important that these women visualize themselves in the position they desire.
Armetta has implemented and continues to make changes in rural cities but her journey continues as she leaves her mark throughout the state of Texas. As for her future, Armetta hopes to turn WISE into a nonprofit organization to implement solutions for issues that she strongly believes needs more attention.